Western Digital Designs Small Business Server for SMBs

By Thor Olavsrud | Posted November 15, 2011

Western Digital Tuesday signaled its intent to expand into the small business storage market with a new small business server that offers data protection with built-in hardware and software redundancy for all of the devices connected to the network.

"Today, our product is primarily targeted at consumers, with approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of our product winding up in small businesses," said Tom Gallivan, vice president of marketing for the SMB solutions group at WD (NYSE:WDC). "We decided that we needed to explore that space a bit more. It's synergistic to our consumer business and to our infrastructure and IP in the storage space."

Dubbed the Sentinel DX4000, the new small business storage solution combines centralized storage and backup-and-restore protection for 25 network devices (both PC and Mac). It includes Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials operating system software and features Intel D525 Dual Core Atom chips.

"The WD Sentinel small office storage server is the ideal storage, backup and secure remote access solution for any SMB," Gallivan said. "The ability to have centralized storage that is both on-premises and offers secure remote access provides a small business owner and employees the flexibility needed for today's mobile lifestyle."

The Sentinel DX4000 comes in both 4 TB and 8 TB configurations, and is preconfigured with enterprise-class drives, RAID storage protection, built-in server based backup and recovery software, redundant networking ports and a redundant power option. It's a trayless design with four bays.

"Everything was designed to make it easy to use," Gallivan said. "There's no screwing on brackets. The door pops open, and you slide the unit in. I can install the unit and I'm not an EE or ME or IE or whatever engineer you want to be. I can install this unit in 15 or 20 minutes and have it connect to as many devices as I need it to connect to."

Gallivan explained that WD focused on making the device simple to install and manage because as many as 80 percent of small businesses don't have a small business IT administrator. However, it also made an effort to make it powerful and flexible to meet the needs of consultants and value-added resellers (VARs) who are responsible for a great deal of IT management in small businesses.

"Developing a product and program to service, support and cater to that community is very important to us," Gallivan said.

He noted that WD is creating a SelectWD-SMB partner program to attract partners and provide them with information and a resource for working with its solutions. WD is also working closely with the Microsoft MVP and Intel partner programs to provide resources for small business IT consultants and VARs.

"We're going to provide content and technical briefings and training to those IT consultants to build a community around our SMB platform," Gallivan said.

The 4 TB configuration, priced at $949.99, is preconfigured as RAID 1, while the 8 TB version, priced at $1,449.99, comes in a RAID 5 configuration. However, Gallivan noted that WD has included an Auto RAID migration feature in the small business storage server. When you add a third disk to the unit, it automatically reconfigures from RAID 1 to RAID 5.

The small business server also gives you the capability to connect to a "public cloud" storage provider in an effort to offer small businesses an easy and integrated disaster recovery solution.

All WD Sentinel customers receive free tech support for 30 days from the time of the first call. Customers also have the option to upgrade their service plan with three options:

  • WD Guardian Express offers next-day parts replacement service, including shipping and handling costs.
  • WD Guardian Pro offers a one-year support agreement with WD service, express parts replacement and priority access to technical support.
  • Guardian Extended Care extends the product warranty from the standard three-year warranty to five years.

Gallivan said WD has a supply of WD Sentinel in the channel now, but supplies are likely to remain tight for some time due to flooding in Thailand that has affected a significant portion of its hard disk manufacturing capability.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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